Campaign for crisis accommodation

David SalvaireSound Telegraph

A local not-for-profit organisations’ ambitious plan to provide emergency relief for the homeless is gaining momentum, with a major proposal submitted to State and local governments.

The Catalpa Homeless Foundation was launched last year by Michael Kiernan, who has been campaigning to establish a shelter facility that will eventually see people helped into employment and permanent accommodation.

Mr Kiernan said he hoped the new proposal, which was handed to the Premier and local governments, would move the project closer to becoming a reality.

“It’s quite clear that there’s the political will to meet the immediate requirements of people with domestic violence issues and rough sleepers,” he said.

“But the bureaucrats can become the gatekeepers in these projects and invariably proposals can get bogged down, meanwhile there are thousands of people who are in need of emergency accommodation.”

On a typical night in WA, about 9600 people are homeless, with one in every 3000 people sleeping rough.

Mr Kiernan said the project would work as an overflow to the services offered by organisations like the Lucy Saw Women’s Refuge Centre and the Salvation Army.

Catalpa Homeless Foundation’s Michael Kiernan.
Camera IconCatalpa Homeless Foundation’s Michael Kiernan. Credit: David Salvaire

The foundation aims to break the cycle of homelessness through filling gaps in the current systems and services, with a three-pronged plan.

Using 8ha of land leased by the council through an agreement with the State Government, Catalpa wants to provide safe and sanitary facilities for people sleeping rough to use.

This would include an authorised parking and safe sleeping area.

From there, the foundation wants to help provide a stepping stone from the street to independent living by offering assistance in getting people back into work, providing counselling and helping those who want to apply for housing.

The organisation also wants to establish social enterprises, with projects to oversee the running of a market garden and a program to repair recycled furniture.

Aside from the leasing of land, Mr Kiernan said the project would come at no cost to the State or local governments.

On a typical night in WA, about 9600 people are homeless, with one in every 3000 people sleeping rough.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the greatest cause of homelessness stems from domestic violence or relationships (44 per cent), financial issues (20 per cent) and accommodation problems (18 per cent).

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